Wrestling with the technology

I have a love-hate relationship with technology. It’s great when it works. The rest of the time…

But let’s start with the encouraging stuff.

I was sitting at my desk on Wednesday when a text message arrived on my phone.

“Dear Miss Judith Furse, your Eye Clinic appointment has been made…”

Seconds later, an email to the same effect appeared in my in-tray.

“Yay!” I shouted to the world in general.

After years of talking to hospital staff and raising the issue at patient usergroup meetings, the hospital had finally sent me an appointment notification in not just one accessible format, but two!

I am not sure I can convey just how excited I was. I think, deep down, I had begun to think this was a battle I wasn’t going to win or, at least, not for some time to come. When the hospital sends me printed notification of an appointment, I sometimes have to wait days to get someone else to read the letter to me. And then, of course, personal information which should be confidential immediately isn’t. I hope you can see why, for me, any information which I can access for myself is something of a minor triumph.

So that was all really good.

And then there was Thursday.

On Thursday, I came back from a meeting ready to settle down at my computer and get some work done. It was around 2 pm when I turned on the machine and started the booting-up process. It beeped and whirred as usual but then… Nothing.

Time passed.

It was extremely frustrating. I strongly suspected that there was some kind of message on the screen and all I had to do was tick an OK box and all would be well. The computer hadn’t booted up enough to open my speech software, though, so I was in the dark.

I fumed for some time. Then an idea came to me: my sister-in-law might be in. So I made a video call to her using my cell phone and held the phone up so that she could see the computer monitor. This was easier said than done. I found it very hard to judge distance and angles. She called out instructions reminiscent of a competitor on The Golden Shot. (If you didn’t see that particular 1970s game show, you haven’t missed anything.)

I was right. There was an error message and there was a “dismiss” button. All we had to do was click on it.

First find your mouse.

I rummaged about on my PA’s desk until I located it. I should say here that I have never used a mouse. I was about to embark on a crash course. I continued to hold the phone up in my right hand, trying to keep it steady all the while. With my left hand I grasped the mouse. We tried to marry the cursor up with the button to be clicked on.

For some time we played a kind of cat and mouse game with the cursor and the button, though strictly speaking, I suppose, it was the mouse operating the cat. I tried to push the mouse left, right, up and down, not too fast and not too slowly, whilst holding the phone aloft.

We weren’t sure that we’d achieved the desired result but it occurred to me that if the cursor was in the right place, I could probably press the “Enter” key on the keyboard and all would be well.

I pressed “Enter”.

Nothing happened immediately so I went to get a cup of tea.

After a while I heard the tinkling notes of the Windows jingle. Hooray! The computer was booting up. Sure enough, soon after that my speech software started talking to me and, at around 5.30 pm, I finally started work!

Technology can be an absolute pain and it can be wonderful. For want of a simple click, I had lost an entire afternoon but, thanks to my phone and my sister-in-law, the situation was eventually rescued.

So this week has been a mixture of frustrations and gains. Much like any other week, really!